Why Wye?

NBC News reported this past Saturday that the White House originally wanted to host the Middle East peace talks, which may soon lead to an agreement of modest but genuine importance, at Camp David. This “was rejected, for fear of comparisons to Jimmy Carter’s Middle East peace breakthrough,” the Nightly News said. (The Camp David agreement almost won Jimmy Carter the Nobel Peace Prize, an outcome which Carter is said to believe might have won him the 1980 election; no such deux ex machina is likely to befall Clinton, though.) The implication seems to be that Camp David was vetoed by the negotiating parties, i.e., Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. But a White House source tells Chatterbox that in fact the idea of holding the conference at Camp David did not come from the White House, which rejected the idea for fear it would put too much pressure on the negotiations. The source wouldn’t say who did suggest Camp David, but Chatterbox is going to go out on a limb and guess it was Yasir Arafat, who presumably wants an agreement more than Bibi Netanyahu. It’s possible, however, that it was Netanyahu, who perhaps didn’t relish holding the talks in a setting (Maryland’s Eastern Shore) where the local delicacy (Maryland blue crab) is treyfe. It’s also possible that Chatterbox’s White House source has it wrong, though Chatterbox is inclined to believe his source over NBC News.

Timothy Noah